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Cricket writers pick their abiding Tendulkar memory
October 10, 2013
Blogs : The hand-speed of a boxer
Blogs : A touch of Viv
Blogs : A titanic goodbye
What They Said About : 'It's not just the talent he was born with but what he did with it'
News : Tendulkar to retire after 200th Test
Features : The unimpeachable straight bat
Players/Officials: Sachin Tendulkar
The lights in the press box started flickering
Steven Lynch: I've only ever been to one ODI at the Wankhede Stadium, India's match against Australia in November 2003. Australia made 286, and as the innings break finished the noise - which was already pretty loud - started swelling, and swelling. Sachin Tendulkar was coming in first. As the crowd realised it was him, the volume ratcheted up and up, feet drummed on the floors of the stands, and the lights in the press box started flickering. I'm not sure that the ceiling wasn't shaking. Virender Sehwag was out for a duck, but the Mumbai crowd didn't mind much: Sachin made 68. I'm fairly sure the onlookers didn't mind too much that India lost, either. It was an ear-splitting, shiver-inducing experience. And I bet there will be something similar during his 200th and final Test.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013
Forever the floppy-haired teen
Nicholas Hogg: So farewell to the "Little Master", and farewell to a player not only worshipped for his venerable cricketing abilities but universally admired for the way in which he played the game, both on and off the field. The 100 hundreds are carved in stone, but for me he is forever the floppy-haired teenager sprinting in to take that stunning one-handed catch at Lord's in 1990. Watching the glorious clip again one can see a love of cricket that would carry the ebullient youngster into legend.
Nicholas Hogg is a novelist and co-founder of the Authors Cricket Club
That Centurion six
Saad Shafqat: In Pakistan we've always been deeply envious that India produced Sachin Tendulkar. He combined a subcontinental physique with a self-effacing manner and incomparable batting ability. I remember when he came out to bat against us during a match in Centurion in the World Cup of 2003. It was, inevitably, a highly anticipated contest, with cranked-up emotions on both sides. I had thrown a party at my house in Karachi to follow the game with a few other die-hard fans. We thought Pakistan had a defendable total, and with some top names in our bowling line-up, we sensed a decent chance.
During the innings break, we ordered pizza and it arrived piping hot and smelling delicious just as Tendulkar, who had come out to open, took guard. There were all these great hopes from Shoaib, but Tendulkar had soon carved him over point for six. Nobody felt like eating after that.
Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi
Keeping the promise
Ed Smith: For 24 years Sachin Tendulkar has shouldered the expectations of a billion people. All sportsmen face pressure; no one else has known pressure quite like that.
His solution was beautifully simple. The batting crease was his sanctuary from fame. Bat in hand, the conductor of events, he could escape the soap opera of his own life. One memory of Tendulkar stands out - not a moment of virtuoso brilliance, instead a sign of acceptance, perhaps even reconciliation.
|I suggested he finish the match in style, there and then, with a straight six. He smiled and then drilled this thing flat and gunbarrel straight over the middle of the sightscreen Mark Nicholas|
He had hit a perfect off drive to bring up his first Test match century, against England in 1990. As the crowd cheered, Tendulkar did not leap into the air. He did not pump his fist or flash his sponsored bat. Instead, he looked up briefly to the heavens, the source of his genius, then modestly down at the ground, the predestined stage for his career. His eyes stayed fixed on the grass for a moment, accepting the responsibilities ahead as well as the pleasures of the present.
"I was given a great gift, a great talent," his body language implied. "Much is expected, much to be given, duties to be honoured." It looked like a promise was being made.
He was 17 years old. The boy kept that promise.
Kid's got mettle
Ayaz Memon: My best Sachin Tendulkar memory predates his international career. After his world-record partnership with Vinod Kambli in schools cricket as a 15-year-old, he made a magnificent start to his first-class career, scoring centuries in Ranji, Duleep and Irani Trophy matches - all before he turned 16.
In the 1988-89 season India were to tour the West Indies under Dilip Vengsarkar. After such rousing performances, it seemed a cinch that Tendulkar should be in the touring party. But he wasn't. The selectors, afraid of the teenager being hit by the fearsome fast bowlers the West Indies possessed then, kept him out of the side.
The actor Tom Alter and I were collaborating on a sports video called Grandstand for Sportsweek magazine, for which Tendulkar was interviewed. He came to the venue, Hindu Gymkhana in Bombay, straight from a match or practice, kit bag in tow.
After waiting patiently for his turn to face the camera, when asked if he was disappointed at not being selected, he said yes. When told that the selectors did not want to expose him to the fast bowlers for fear of injury, Sachin replied, "If I get hurt, I will learn quicker.''
In those few words, he showed me the mettle and character that would make him one of the greatest in the game.
Ayaz Memon is a senior Indian journalist who writes on sport and other subjects
Everything went quiet when he batted
Christian Ryan: No one memory topples others, just a summer - six summers gone - of biff and swipe, Haydos and Symonds, and niggle, and Harbhajan, bank ads on sightscreens and zinc on lips, James Brayshaw in the commentary box, and a sense of the players mentally polishing adjectives to feed their ghostwriters for their forthcoming 550-page ego trips. Warne was retired. I wasn't on the cricket-writing beat. I watched in the cracks, plucking out passages of play I desperately didn't want to miss, Tendulkar. Eight times he batted. Everything would go quiet.
Christian Ryan is a writer in Melbourne and the author of Golden Boy
The man who loved cricket
Rob Steen: Lord's 1990. Thwarted from making India follow on by Kapil Dev's fabulous fusillade of sixes off Eddie Hemmings, England are declaration-bound when Allan Lamb miscues a drive off Narendra Hirwani. As it soars towards Mars, long-on inches reluctantly to his left, appetite absent. Suddenly we spot a petite figure hurtling towards him from long-off, gaze fixed on the prize. Still at full pelt, the boy disdains the impending collision and nonchalantly intercepts the swooping orb with his right hand. That venerable scribbler John Thicknesse justly dubbed it "as wonderful an outfield catch as Lord's has ever seen", but it was much more than that. It was my first taste of the joy the boy derived from his calling, and the joy it enabled him to impart. There can only be one title for the biopic: The Man Who Loved Cricket.
Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton
What the fuss was all about
Rob Houwing: Just how good was this young Tendulkar, really? Remember that in the South Africa of 1991, only in its very virgin stages of apartheid burial, we saw so little of the outside world and what made it tick; what made it cheer and cry. So when our national team, hastily assembled for first official combat in more than two decades, made that momentous three-ODI tour of India, one of my first thoughts ahead of the Kolkata opener was how this much-trumpeted wunderkind, 18, would fare against our debutant, strongly hyped strike bowler Allan Donald.
More rigidly glued than usual to a TV screen, I'll never forget the immediate masterclass from both: in a nervy, low-scoring affair edged by the hosts, "White Lightning" bagged a five-for, yet Tendulkar's expressive 62 (he'd taken to the crease at 3 for 2) went a long way to nudging the Indians over the line. It was just the start, concerning Tendulkar, of my appreciatively grasping what the fuss was about.
Robert Houwing is chief writer for www.Sport24.co.za
'The crowd loved it, and so did I'
Mark Nicholas: The year after I retired from first-class cricket I was asked to lead the Duke of Norfolk's XI against India. Sachin was captain and it was fun to toss up with him, though he rather flattened the occasion by choosing to bowl first. We were a pretty ordinary team, save Robin Smith, who made 60-odd.
Anyway, Sachin made a hundred in pursuit of about 170 to win and seemed to enjoy his partnerships with Navjot Sidhu and Sanjay Manjrekar. With India needing 6, I brought myself on to bowl - just to be able to say for the rest of my life that I bowled to Tendulkar.
|All about him, the Anglo-Asian diaspora hit pure worship mode, hollering and hooting, but he was in a moment of both serenity and sadness. I'd never seen batting, adoration or poignancy like it. What a player Tanya Aldred|
Sanjay blocked the first three balls of gentle offspin and took a single from the fourth. Sachin drove the next to the extra-cover boundary - scores level. I suggested he finish the match in style, there and then, with a straight six. He smiled and then drilled this thing flat and gunbarrel straight over the middle of the sightscreen. The crowd loved it. So did I. Alongside Barry Richards, he is my favourite batsman ever. Salute Sachin.
Former Hampshire batsman Mark Nicholas hosts Channel 9's cricket coverage
Jon Hotten: When I think of Tendulkar, one of the first images I get is of his bat, the one he used on that tremendous spree that drew him close to his unapproachable record of one hundred international hundreds. If the game of cricket has an Excalibur, it's that piece of willow. It must have fit his hand so perfectly that he couldn't bear to lose it. He kept patching it up, taping it, binding it, loving it, not parting with it even when its centre was actually beginning to blacken with the number of balls that had struck it. Even Tendulkar needs a totem, and that bat was it. I bet he's still got it too.
Jon Hotten is a writer based in England
A greatness that transcends the instant
Gideon Haigh: Boxing Day Test match, 2003. Virender Sehwag slashing the ball to all points. But the crowd is waiting for Sachin; it's almost like they're holding something back in expectation. Finally he appears, a tiny white dot amid the coloured throng, and emerges from the gate to a reception of a kind I can imagine greeting Bradman in his pomp. This is the moment. This is the man. I've seen many great visiting players at the MCG, but none, I suspect, whom the crowd has so openly wanted to succeed - his achievement, they sense, will ennoble them also.
Sod's Law. Murphy's Law. The Little Master feathers his first ball down the leg side to the keeper, and the crowd, which has barely finished applauding Tendulkar's entrance, begins to applaud his exit. I am quite proud of my fellow Melburnians. They know that Tendulkar's greatness transcends the fallibility of the instant, and they cheer him to the echo all the way off. At the end of my aisle, two people get up and leave. They've come to see Tendulkar, and not even Sehwag will do. I saw Tendulkar make tons of runs, but this isolated failure, and the public's response, was a telling event in itself.
Gideon Haigh is a cricket writer and historian in Australia
"He strode in like a miniature colossus"
Ashley Mallett: The ground rose as one to greet Sachin Tendulkar. He strode to the wicket like a miniature colossus and there was a standing ovation, one that befitted this modern Bradman.
Almost immediately he drove sublimely for four through the covers. There were a few hits to leg for singles or twos but no other classic Tendulkar boundaries. Then the sky fell in.
Tendulkar lamely hit a ball from a pedestrian medium-pacer straight to cover point and departed for a paltry 11. It was as if the enemy had aimed for an eagle and had killed a dove: cricket's darling had fallen foul of a badly directed salvo.
The year was 2002, or was it 2003? No matter, Tendulkar lives in the memory of all who saw his batting wizardry. I met him in Colombo years later but that short innings in England in whatever year burns in my memory of modern cricket's great batsman.
Offspinner Ashley Mallett took 132 Tests wickets in 38 Tests for Australia
A moment of serenity and sadness
Tanya Aldred: Nevil Road, Bristol, May 1999. A little man stands in the middle of a slightly down-at-heel county ground, looking up at the patchwork southern sky. He has just scored a quite beautiful, scintillating century in a World Cup game for India. Yet two days earlier he had been at his father's funeral in Mumbai. All about him, the Anglo-Asian diaspora hit pure worship mode, hollering and hooting, but he was in a moment of both serenity and sadness. I'd never seen batting, adoration or poignancy like it. What a player.
Tanya Aldred is a writer in Manchester
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